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THE NOONER for September 5, 2012

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Rasmussen is out with its weekly generic congressional tracker, which finds the GOP with a one-point edge, 43-42%. Now, I'm not a huge fan of this poll as it tells little about the story on the ground in 435 congressional districts.

However, trends are important in politics. The presidential race will be a horserace to the end, as will a few dozen House races. While fundraising, independent spending, gaffes, and organization will be important, the fact is that national sentiment will shift a significant share of voters--particularly independents ("no party preference" in California).

Of my Most Interesting Congressional Races, sentiment will come into play in seven races that are as close as you can get to toss-ups:

  • CD07 - Ami Bera (D) v. Dan Lungren (R) - 18.3% NPP
  • CD09 - Ricky Gill (R) v. Jerry McNerney (D) - 15.8% NPP
  • CD10 - Jeff Denham (R) v. Jose Hernandez (D) - 16.4% NPP
  • CD24 - Lois Capps (D) v. Abel Maldonado (R) - 20.9% NPP
  • CD26 - Julia Brownley (D) v. Tony Strickland (R) - 19.2% NPP
  • CD41 - Mark Takano (D) v. John Tavliogne (R) - 17.8% NPP
  • CD52 - Brian Bilbray (R) v. Scott Peters (D) - 27.1% NPP

(I leave out CD21 and CD36, which are in play, but need a huge Democratic swing to be seriously toss-ups.)

In these races, the larger the independent vote, the more impact the national trend will likely have on the race. A district like CD09 will be much more about turnout than mood, while CD52 will have a lot of folks walking to the polls and choosing a congressional candidate that will likely be reflective of the "generic congressional ballot." 

Here's the trend line for 2012.

The largest gap was on April 15, when 46% claimed support for a generic Republican and only 36% claimed support for a generic Democrat. When the poll was in the field, the General Services Administrationspending scandal was hot, and Darrell Issa was getting a lot of airtime. (Democrats will also point out that voters were most inclined to vote Republican when Congress was on spring recess.)

Last week, Democrats were tied 42%-42%, and this week essentially has to be as the continuation of that tie. The GOP has been ticked up one point after holding steady at 42% in the last four weeks. The 2012 range for the GOP has been 40-46%, while Democrats have ranged from 36% to the current 42%.

While I still think that there won't be a strong enough tide for Nancy Pelosi to grab a net 25 seats (particularly with California missteps), there is reason for Democratic House leaders to be smiling in Charlotte. If you believe Rasmussen, which normally tilts a bit Republican, Democrats are best positioned in congressional races nationally than they have been all year.

Of course, you can also just say the poll, which relies on automated telephone calls, is crap. Up to you.

Meanwhile, Henry Waxman gets the endorsement from POTUS, while Howard Berman sends out a cryptic pro-Israel message. The message was in response to the choice of party leaders to omit recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the party platform. Brad Sherman responded by giving everyone in Israel combs.

SHHHH: The American Beverage Association, which has been very generous to Governor Brown's Prop 30 committee amidst its fight against beverage taxes in Richmond and El Monte, is suing to block imposition of Richmond's campaign finance ordinance. In a case that could affect state ballot measure disclosure, the case argues that the requirement to provide a "Major funding by" disclosure with the top 5 funders is unconstititional.

$$$: San Bernardino's city council shows how it got into trouble, balking at cuts in a six hour meeting. [Ryan Hagen @ SBSun] Abby Sewell covers the story the the LAT.

JUST SAYIN': Antonio Villaraigosa may be the hottest Latino pol in California, but San Antonio mayor Julian Castro eclipsed his star last night.

Tonight's California speakers:

  • Speaker John Perez - 2pm PDT
  • Congresswoman Judy Chu - 2pm PDT
  • Former Controller Steve Westly - 2pm PDT
  • Prop. 39 Proponent Tom Steyer - 3pm PDT
  • Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi - 4pm PDT 
  • Attorney General Kamala Harris - 6pm PDT
  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa - 7pm PDT (last spot before Clinton gives nomination speech)

Is it true that not a single Californian took the stage at the GOP convention in Tampa?

BOROWITZ: Democrats Revise Convention Schedule [New Yorker]

FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Nate Silver gives Obama a significant bump. [NYT]

Stephen Colbert associated Republican comments with Nazis before John Burton did.

♥ ♥ ♥ CONGRATULATIONS - To California Teachers Association lobbyist Jennifer Baker and new husband Schuyler Wilcox on yesterday's nuptials!

#SACBEEFAIL: The Sacramento Bee unveiled its "Plus" paywall today. Website viewers will be able to view 15 pages per month for free, and then need a digital subscription (or, the ability to hit Ctrl-Shift-N in Chrome) to view more. Obviously, since I encourage/nag/plead for folks to become paid subscribers to the Nooner, I can't complain too much.

However, check out this fine print before you jump on board.

  • "A $1.00 premium is added to all subscriptions for each of these special editions: New Years Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. These premium days are not included in the above subscription price and your renewal expiration will be adjusted accordingly." -- We have to pay to get holiday papers?
  • The price for print+digital is $3.38 per week for 13 weeks, and then increases to an unspecified amount. If you go to the FAQ, you'll find that digital is $1.99/month on top of your print subscription.

♥ ♥ ♥ Hey, did I mention that you can be a superstar Nooner subscriber for only $2.99/month or $29/year? Scrap the ad, support my coffee addiction, and help me pay for all these newspaper paywalls. Besides the ad-free version, subscribers get a special tingly feeling all over when they visit and



Dianne Feinstein lays out plans for another U.S. Senate term
Torey Van Oot @
In the middle of a speech focused largely on the presidential race, Republican policies and propositions back home, U.S. Sen Dianne Feinstein took a few minutes to talk about her own bid on the ballot this year.

Herdt: A Productive Year For State Legislators
Timm Herdt @
There will be many who will suggest that either this keyboard or its operator is defective, but the following sentence is intentional: The California Legislature had a productive year.

Bill Adds A New Factor For Gaining California University Tenure
Dan Walters @
Public university faculty members should, of course, be free to engage in whatever extracurricular activities they wish, as long as they don't compromise their primary duties. But should other activities be equated with teaching or research? Would it stop at outreach or wind up including political activism? This is one of those slippery slopes.

As Gov. Jerry Brown Considers Bills, Campaign Cash Pours In
Michael J. Mishak @
As Gov. Jerry Brown considers the slew of bills that lawmakers sent him in the final weeks of the legislative session, he will inevitably be making winners and losers out of the donors that have given millions of dollars to his tax initiative.

Students In UC Davis Pepper Spray Case Reach Legal Settlement
Sam Stanton and Denny Walsh @
Lawyers for students hit with pepper spray on the UC Davis campus last November have reached a proposed settlement of their lawsuit, and the University of California Board of Regents will consider the deal next week.

Rep. Henry Waxman Gets President Obama's Endorsement
On politics in the Golden State

Richmond anti-soda tax committee sues for federal protection from city's campaign disclosure rules
Robert Rogers @
The suit, filed in federal court in San Francisco on Aug. 30, seeks an order barring the city from imposing its campaign ordinance on the Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes, a declaration that the groups' First Amendment rights were violated and money to cover court costs.

Dan Walters Daily: Bill infighting far from done at the CA Capitol
Dan Smith @
VIDEO: Dan says the mountain of bills on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk provides for some interesting dynamics as the Nov. 6 election approaches. (Think Proposition 30.)

Dan Morain: Perez Tried To Help Kids - And Altria, Too - Dan Morain - The Sacramento Bee
Dan Morain

Group fighting Richmond soda tax files lawsuit
The Associated Press @
A group funded by the beverage industry has sued to avoid campaign-disclosure laws as it fights a proposed soda tax in Northern California.

California Legislature's new era may mean more productive Capitol
George Skelton @
Next Legislature will be working under a tweaked set of rules, such as a term-limit change, that could result in less stalemate in Sacramento.

California Delgates Have More On Their Mind Than Obama Re-Election
Torey Van Oot and David Siders @
The welcome packet for California delegates attending this week's Democratic National Convention includes a letter from state party Chairman John Burton calling the four-day political gathering the "kickoff for our final push to victory in November."

CSU Faculty OKs Contract, Averting Strikes This Fall - La Daily News
The California Faculty Association, which represents more than 23,000 faculty members, coaches and counselors, began voting on a new four-year contract Aug. 13. The proposal was approved by 91 percent of the voting members, association officials said.

AM Alert: Villaraigosa, Newsom to address state delegation
Micaela Massimino @
The Democratic National Convention continues today in Charlotte, N.C., with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, U.S. Sen.Dianne Feinstein and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood scheduled to address the California delegation's breakfast.

California Delgates Have More On Their Mind Than Obama Re-election - Presidential Campaign - The Sacramento Bee
First lady Michelle Obama acknowledges the crowd's enthusiastic response to her speech Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

State Board Now Can Wade Back Into Eighth Grade Math Debate
John Fensterwald @
The State Board of Education will be able to disentangle competing math standards that have been creating confusion over what should be taught in eighth grade, under a bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

No-show health care caucus
Joanne Kenen @
Viewed as vulnerable on Obama's health care law, ten Democrats will be skipping Charlotte.

Dems Confident About Holding Senate Despite Being Outspent By Republicans - The Hill - Covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns And Capitol Hill |
Katie Dvorak @
The Hill 1625 K Street, NW Suite 900 Washington DC 20006 | 202-628-8500 tel | 202-628-8503 fax

The Caucus: Excerpts From Conversations With President Clinton
On a recent trip to Africa, former President Bill Clinton discussed a range of topics - from health care and the political climate in Washington to the shooting in Aurora, Colo., to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's plans.

Mom-in-chief Michelle Obama Makes The Personal Political. And Twitter Loves It
Wyatt Buchanan, Michael Collier, Richard Dunham, Bob Egelko, Joe Garofoli, Marisa Lagos, Carolyn Lochhead, Carla Marinucci, @
Mom-in-chief Michelle Obama makes the personal political. And Twitter loves it

Audit: Teacher pension lax on anti-spiking efforts
JUDY LIN, Associated Press @
A new audit by the state controller's office says the nation's largest teacher pension fund has been lax about detecting pension spiking at California school districts.

Sacramento Housing Prices Post Substantial Gains - Business - The Sacramento Bee
The latest in a series of positive housing reports shows significant year-over-year and month-over-month gains for Sacramento-area home prices, mirroring a national trend of a housing market on the mend.

Justice Dept. clears N.H. voter ID law
Emily Schultheis @
Officials stress that voters without appropriate ID can still cast a ballot if they sign an affidavit.

Few Environmental Bills Make It Out Of The California Legislature
Environmental groups and their supporters hoping for a new wave of green laws from the California Legislature this year ended up with barely a ripple.